Surfed over to About.com tonight to thank their Marketing Guide Michael Hinshaw for sending us some traffic by linking to MarketingSherpa (if you don't occasionally surf your traffic logs to see where traffic is coming from and then personally thank the biggest contributors, I suggest you start - it's an integral part of any links campaign), when up popped the Sprinks box showing paid links.
Just like Overture and Google paid listings, you get a very, very little amount of copy space in a paid links campaign. Here is a sample of one that came up, with the line breaks just as I saw it on the screen:
DigitalArrow - Targeted Email Marketing
Cost-effective Opt in email marketing solutions. We have access to over 50 million
subscribers. Let us help you target your ideal customers!
(Cost to Advertiser: $0.83)
When you look at this sample, what sticks out to your eye??? The right half of the body copy. Now, I think the marketers for both these companies did a fine job in presenting their case clearly and concisely while hitting important keywords. However, neither of them wrote their copy thinking about where the eye looks. That dangling-out-in-the-white-space bit will certainly be much more read than the marvelous beginning bit they started with. The dangling bit is where the powerhouse words should have gone.
Even though every art director on earth hates me for saying this, that's why you need to reserve the rights to make copy changes once you see your copy as it appears on the screen or printed page. Once it's laid out and you see where eyes go, you may need to change it (I do about 50% of the time).
In cases like sponsored text links and text-email newsletter sponsorships, you'll need to do the lay-out yourself as you're writing the copy. Don't just start typing away in Word. Instead set your typeface and boundaries to match the final layout, and then write. That way you'll write it as it appears to the eye. Which will make your copy much more powerful.
Tip: For a text-email sponsorship running 60 charactors across, set your right hand margin at 5 1/2 inches and your font at Courier 10 point. Even better, download a copy of the newsletter your ad will run in and type over a current ad to see how yours looks.